American foreign policy Americans for Peace Now Ehud Olmert Gaza Strip Hamas Israel Palestinians

What to do about the Gaza Strip emergency…

In the last thread, Richard Witty asked what I thought of Israel’s behavior in the Gaza Strip and what I would do about the situation. My response was, “I haven’t the faintest idea.” But Americans for Peace Now just released a statement that makes a lot of sense. You will also find an “Action Alert” on their website.

One praiseworthy aspect of the APN statement is that it doesn’t just deal with diplomatic and military issues. It also says the collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza is just plain wrong. The writers even dare to use a variant of the “M-word” (morality): “This tragedy must be reversed, not as a concession to Hamas, but because it is the right thing to do, both morally and strategically.”

We need more public, clear-cut objections from the pro-Israel left when either side –Israelis or Palestinians –deliberately makes innocent people suffer for the sake of murky diplomatic goals, especially if the perpetrator of the suffering knows full well its actions probably won’t help to achieve those goals. Who is the “we” that needs such objections? The Jewish people, first and foremost.

The statement also has no patience for the rejectionists who are hurling rockets into southern Israel or the kidnappers of Gilad Shalit. That is noteworthy only because a quick scan of the anti-Israel, anti-Zionist blogosphere reveals no compassion for the people of Sderot or the parents of Gilad Shalit and places all blame for the situation in Gaza at Israel’s feet. That is, of course, as offensive as ignoring Palestinian suffering.

And what about APN’s diplomatic proposal? All I can say is that I haven’t heard any better ideas:


“In recent days, the world has seen images of Gazans struggling to cope with a lack of fuel and electricity and an acute shortage of other supplies. This week, the world media is flooded with images of huge numbers of Gazans crossing the Egyptian border to purchase basic goods and necessities. Clearly, Israeli efforts to pressure Hamas by clamping down on Gaza, efforts condoned by the U.S., have resulted in increased desperation and misery for the people of Gaza. Wednesday’s breach of the Egypt-Gaza border is a tangible consequence of this desperation and a disastrous development for Israel in terms of both security and its image in the world.

“The firing of rockets and mortar rounds from Gaza into Israel must end. APN and its Israeli sister organization, Peace Now, have repeatedly expressed solidarity with the residents of Israeli communities near Gaza who are suffering from such attacks. The government of Israel has the right – indeed, the obligation – to take measures to bring these attacks to a halt, as well as to seek to free its captured soldier Gilad Shalit.

“APN has also consistently held that Israel should avoid actions that constitute collective punishment or cause disproportionate suffering or casualties among civilians. Such actions are fundamentally wrong and ultimately counterproductive. It is equally wrong and counterproductive for the U.S. to condone such actions. The dramatic deterioration in the health and welfare of civilians in Gaza over the past year represents an entirely man-made, and entirely avoidable, humanitarian tragedy. This tragedy must be reversed, not as a concession to Hamas, but because it is the right thing to do, both morally and strategically.

“By now it should be clear that the policy of placing Gaza under siege is succeeding neither in stopping Qassam fire, nor in ousting Hamas. Tactics of this nature have been tried and have failed, repeatedly. Rather than continue down this disastrous path, Israel, with the support and urging of the U.S., should forge a more responsible, constructive, and far-sighted way forward in terms of both its tactics and strategy for Gaza.

“This new way forward should include ending the blockade of Gaza. It should also include urgent diplomatic efforts to address the security challenges associated with Gaza. In particular, Israel should explore the possibility of achieving understandings with Hamas to end the violence, including a ceasefire or a “hudna,” either through direct contacts or via third parties, including President Abbas. Such an option has been embraced to various degrees by key Israeli military and security figures, including former national security advisor (to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) Giora Eiland, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, and former defense minister Shaul Mofaz.

“A ceasefire or hudna cannot be an end unto itself. A ceasefire or hudna is desirable as a means to halt violence and chaos in the immediate term, creating the space to facilitate improvements in the humanitarian situation and the establishment of a political process. In this way, it can allow the sides to avoid the re-emergence of violence in the longer term. Such a process could involve, as appropriate, the major relevant players: Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Egypt. Absent improvements in the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the establishment of a political process, any ceasefire or hudna risks becoming merely an intermission to allow those attacking Israel to re-arm, re-trench, and enhance their military capability for future attacks.

“Similarly, it is vital that order and security be restored along the Egypt-Gaza border. This will require cooperation and coordination, including between Egypt and Israel, whose Camp David treaty governs military operations and deployments in the border area. Absent such coordination and cooperation, or absent accompanying improvements in the humanitarian situation inside Gaza, efforts to address the border situation will likely fail, with predictable results.”

What y’all think?

56 thoughts on “What to do about the Gaza Strip emergency…

  1. Dan,
    Whether or not collective punishment is immoral, when applied by democratic regimes it rarely works. This is because democracies by their nature are open and malleable–they can be appealed to. Also tribalism or nationalism makes a person not directly involved in the violence favor his own ethnic group over the enemy ethnic group and blame the enemy for his problems resulting from the punishment rather than his own side. Thus it has the effect of increasing support for the regime or terrorist movement. This is similar to the experience in World War II when bombing of civilian populations in Britain, Italy, Germany, China and Japan only served to increase their sense of solidarity and desire to defy the enemy. Only when a regime is overwhelmingly unpopular does bombing or collective punishment seem to work and even then it is questionable. Collective punishment is against international law because it violates the principle of portionality–the collatoral damage to the civilian population is out of all proportion to the military goal achieved.

    Israel should stick to a policy of carefully crafted assassination attacks that target key Islamist military figures. The attacks should only be carried out when the value of the target will outweigh the likely collatoral damage.

  2. There is no nation in history which sold food and fuel to a neighboring state which was attacking it daily with rockets.

    Can you think of one, besides Israel?

    At the present time Israel is continuing to supply Gaza with 70 percent of its electricity, and much else besides. But let’s assume that Israel continues to move in the direction of a total boycott of Gaza.

    In that case, Gazans will continue to buy fuel and food from Egypt, as we saw this week. Half of the population of Gaza travelled to Egypt to purchase things. Gaza is very small, and traveling to Egypt is not so difficult. You can even walk to Egypt now that there is an open border.

    As Egypt becomes an alternate supplier to Gaza,the “collective punishment” analogy would then break down. Israel could then say that it is not in the business of selling to nations which fire rockets daily at Israel.

    Israel will offer Gaza trade or war, but not both. Personally, I think that such a policy would be more effective than targeted assassinations alone.

  3. There are no good answers, but of the three options mentioned by Leslie Susser in JTA, the ceasefire will probably cause the most long term damage. It is possible to be very sad because of the suffering of Palestinians and still do what needs to be done to protect Israeli lives.

    “Morality” preached from nice Jewish liberals in from cushy jobs in Washington will lead to steps that will make them feel better. But in the long run, as explained below, giving Hamas a ceasefire will only allow them to continue building up their weapons caches. And more “suffering” will result on both sides:

    “Basically, three major options are available:

    “* A large-scale ground operation and reoccupation of Gaza for at least several months.

    “The advantage would be to give the Israel Defense Forces the kind of control it has in the West Bank, enabling the IDF to prevent missile launches, destroy missile workshops and arrest militia operatives. In other words, to deal the Hamas military infrastructure a devastating blow.

    “There is a downside: Taking Gaza and then maintaining an Israeli presence would probably entail heavy IDF casualties; the move would not play well in the court of international opinion; and it could also stymie peace talks with the more moderate West Bank Palestinians under Mahmoud Abbas.

    “Defense Minister Ehud Barak argues that this step will eventually have to be taken and says that army units are training intensively for it.

    “* Negotiating a cease-fire.

    “That would be the most effective way to stop the Kassams — for now. A cease-fire, however, would enable Hamas to build up its military capabilities, making an Israeli attack several years down the road far more difficult. Although some ex-generals advocate this course, the government now is strongly against it.

    “* Keeping up strong military and economic pressure, including targeted killings of Hamas operatives, pinpoint ground raids to keep the militiamen off-balance, and reducing fuel and other supplies to the civilian population without causing a humanitarian crisis.

    “The problem with this route — the one the government has adopted – is that it will inevitably run into international criticism and rather than getting the beleaguered civilian population to press the militiamen to stop firing, it might actually unite Gazans around Hamas.”

  4. I’ve been reading the book “The Palestinians – The Making of a People” by Baruch Kimmerling.

    In reading of the history of Palestine (over the past two hundred years – the scope of the book), here and elsewhere, I’ve learned that the Palestinians have experienced enormous social, legal, and political turmoil for at least a hundred years (preceding but including the advent and dominance of Zionism in its different flavors).

    Palestine was a very class-defined social system with near-serfs and quite wealthy elite families and clans. Every time legal systems changed, which occurred radically when the Turks established a land registry in the late 19th century (compelling all land to be titled, rather than just resided on for “owning”), then when the Ottomans fought the English in WW1 (with difficult and confusing military alliances among different ethnic groups), then with WW2 and similar alliances, then the 1948 war and Nakba from the Palestinian perspective.

    When the title requirements were initiated by the Turks and confirmed and further implemented by the British, the majority of Palestinians THEN became near refugees, in the sense of holding no authoritative legal rights to the land that they worked. They, like poor rural residents elsewhere in the world, migrated to cities and more modern agricultural areas for employment.

    Many of the displaced, in Gaza refugee camps, Lebanese and others, were descendants of those communities that had been displaced multiple times.

    The affluent elite families continue to dominate the large Palestinian towns in the West Bank and comprise much of the nationalists (but order-seeking) of Fatah. (I don’t know names, so I’m really surmising more than knowing.)

    The social problems there are NOT short-term, and not easily stabilized nor made healthy.

    The people distrust. They distrust Israelis. They distrust the landed elite Palestinians. They distrust each other. They don’t get reliable information, but more rumor and threat.

    And, they have no current paths to undertake more stable means of development.

    That is the big problem socially, that there is no path to improvement, no basis that even those with any sense of progress can pursue.

    Its a dilemma, as there is no prospect of improvement until there is political stability, and there is no stability until an internal power becomes dominant and consistent, and that the only way a power can become dominant is by notches of success in agitation against the common enemy, Israel.

    And Israel can’t allow open trade (Egypt and air) when a large portion of their trade goes to fund and supply weapons used to attack Israeli civilians.

  5. Dan is always encouraging people to discuss whether Israeli policies are moral. That is fine.

    But when people lecture me about morality I ignore them. That is human nature. I already know what is moral and what is not. The person lecturing me is a pompous ass who thinks he’s more ethical than I am.

    So the type of discussion that Dan would like to see is not likely to evolve very far. Someone will simply say “Israel has a right to exist” or “shelling Israeli civilians is immoral. What about Sderot?” and it will end there.

  6. I’m less interested in talking about morality than calling attention to immorality when I see it, especially when it is connected to acts done in my name, as a Jew. I am not sure if what is happening in Gaza falls into that category.

    Sometimes one has to commit what would normally be immoral acts to survive. If someone came after my family with a knife, I would kill them. But I am not sure if what is happening in Gaza quite falls in that category, either. It is somewhere in a kind of murky grey area, because something must to be done about Sderot but are those rockets sufficient provocation for a blockade, even it is carefully managed to ensure that people don’t starve and do have a minimally sufficient anount of electricity?

    Beats me.

    The most important truth here is that there are no good answers. There is mostly policy that stems from wishful thinking by Peace Now, Ehud Barak, Olmert. Leiberman, and all the rest.

  7. “””especially when it is connected to acts done in my name, as a Jew.”””

    Just because Israel is a Jewish state doesn’t mean that all Jews live there. Israel has never claimed that all Jews are Israelis.

    If you don’t vote in Israel or live there then whatever Israel does or doesn’t do is not in your name.

    I am a Jewish person. But what I do is not in your name either.

  8. Morality ends up being practicality.

    Its the construction of “if treated this way, how would a reasonable man/woman respond?”

  9. In that case, if rocketed repeatedly for years thousands of times, how would a reasonable person respond?

    By boycotting the nation that is doing the shelling.

    Therefore, according to the above rule the boycott of Gaza is moral.

  10. “In that case, if rocketed repeatedly for years thousands of times, how would a reasonable person respond?”

    Frustration, anger, grief.

    Morality is still the difference between being motivated solely by one’s anger or by one’s intention to relieve the knot.

    The peace of the brave approach afforded a way out, most importantly providing a dignity that didn’t require groveling on either side, that made it possible to consider the practical needs only as needs, and not primarily as rages.

    It works in many difficult marriages. Even if the marriages don’t restore, at least there is a means to take care of the residue (children, property) without warring.

  11. Jonathan wrote:

    “Just because Israel is a Jewish state doesn’t mean that all Jews live there. Israel has never claimed that all Jews are Israelis.

    If you don’t vote in Israel or live there then whatever Israel does or doesn’t do is not in your name.”

    First of all, Israel can’t have it both ways. It represents itself to the Diaspora as the homeland of the Jewish people and, while the precise definition of “homeland” shifts depending on who is talking or writing, it is clearly represented as an ongoing project that the Jewish people as a whole should take responsibility for.

    Second, much of the world believes that most American Jews, in particular, are supportive of Israeli policies. Much of the world believes that we are complicit in actions by the Israelis, so whether or not we want to assert those actions are done “in our name,” in practical terms, that is what is happening.

  12. It is an ongoing discussion as to the degree that diaspora Jews offer sympathy, tangible help, have a voice.

    We are not on the ground there so much of the experience of living in Israel, we miss. We don’t know the dangers. We don’t know the benefits.

    We are not on the ground there so much of the bias formed from living in Israel, we miss. We aren’t bound by the Pavlovian political or military invocations.

    We have the prospect of seeing some things more clearly.

    Our external voice is valuable.

    Those of us with money have our dollar and voice votes. We can contribute to projects that are fulcrum projects, projects that bear much more importance by their presence than the proportion of their presence.

    What builds trust? A two-way street certainly.

    I am a Jewish HUMAN. When a Palestinian is killed or harmed, one of my own is harmed. When an Israeli is killed or harmed, one of my very own is harmed. When a member of my family or even colleagues is killed or harmed, one of my dear own is harmed.

    One of our own. To make peace, we (Jews/Israelis) have to invest in that to a meaningful extent. And, Palestinians similarly.

    Otherwise, what we might call peace is more like the term hudna (calm) or worse (delayed war).

  13. “””First of all, Israel can’t have it both ways.”””

    Israel only has it one way.

    It represents Israelis or, perhaps, Israeli Jews but it does not represent other Jews, and does not claim to. Show me where IN THIS DECADE an Israeli government has claimed to represent American Jews.

    You can’t. So your argument is weak, because it lacks a factual basis.

    “””It represents itself to the Diaspora as the homeland of the Jewish people”””

    Israel is the geographical homeland of the Jewish people as Ireland is the geographical homeland of the Irish people. However, neither Israel nor Ireland speak in the name of Jewish or Irish Americans.

    “””and, while the precise definition of “homeland” shifts depending on who is talking or writing, it is clearly represented as an ongoing project that the Jewish people as a whole should take responsibility for.”””

    Perhaps. But “taking responsibility for” and “represented by” are two very different concepts.

    Some argue that Israel should take responsibility for keeping Gaza supplied with fuel. But even if it does start “taking responsibility for” that it would not mean that Israel was representing Gazans or speaking in their name.

    “””Second, much of the world believes that most American Jews, in particular, are supportive of Israeli policies.”””

    That worldwide belief may be correct, but so what? That would not mean that Israel represented American Jews.

    “Supports” and “are represented by” are also very different concepts.

    I am supportive of Ireland’s policies of strengthening the Gaelic language, but that doesn’t mean that Ireland represents me.

    “””Much of the world believes that we are complicit in actions by the Israelis,”””

    Much of the world believes in astrology and eating dogs for food. Much of the world believes Jews blew up the World Trade Center. Much of the world believes all sorts of things.

    So what?

    “””so whether or not we want to assert those actions are done “in our name,” in practical terms, that is what is happening.”””

    No. It is not within the power of “much of the world” to decide that something was or was not done in my name.

    In order for something to be done in my name, either the person performing the action or I personally would need to make an assertion to that effect.

    If there is no agreement for Israel to act on my behalf then it has not done so.

    Thus, I don’t get the credit when Israel acts wisely, nor the blame when Israel acts unwisely. It is out of my hands.

  14. “Show me where IN THIS DECADE an Israeli government has claimed to represent American Jews.”

    Ok. How about Olmert’s recent speech in Hertzliya:

    “I do not have the moral right to serve as prime minister of the Jewish people and the State of Israel if I do not take the risks, face all the obstacles and be exposed to the challenges involved in this exciting attempt.”

    See http://www.israelenews.com/view.asp?ID=790

  15. There is a connection that makes Diaspora Jews much less than Israeli citizens but, if they are active in pro-Israel causes, much more than passive obeservers. It’s hard to define. But I feel quite comfortable saying that what happens in Israel happens in my name. That is what I feel and believe. No one is forcing you to believe it but you can’t deprive me of the ability to work out the relationship in my own way.

    Anyway, I never said the Israeli government claimed to “represent American Jews.” Those were your words, and they twisted my words to give them a different meaning. I was talking about how Israel represented itself to Diaspora Jews, The relationship is far more complex than what you make it out to be. The way you are articulating it, nothing Israel does, as the Jewish homeland, should ever be judged as reflective of the Diaspora Jews who support it. So, to continue with your analogy, if Irish American Catholics supported the IRA and the IRA beat up some Protestants, Irish American Catholics should be able to completely disassociate themselves from what was done in the Irish homeland.

  16. “””“I do not have the moral right to serve as prime minister of the Jewish people and the State of Israel”””

    Looks like I was wrong. Some are still claiming this in 2008.

  17. “””The way you are articulating it, nothing Israel does, as the Jewish homeland, should ever be judged as reflective of the Diaspora Jews who support it.”””

    It is reflective of people, including Diaspora Jews but not only Jews “who support it” and not reflective of those who do not.

    “””So, to continue with your analogy, if Irish American Catholics supported the IRA”””

    Some do. Some do not. Two Catholic sisters in Northern Ireland complained after IRA members murdered their brother in a brawl and covered it up. The IRA took a lot of heat in the USA because of it, and a lot of Irish-Americans complained.

    “””and the IRA beat up some Protestants,”””

    or, in the most publicized case, bludgeoned a fellow Irish Catholic to death in a brawl at a bar.

    “””Irish American Catholics should be able to completely disassociate themselves from what was done in the Irish homeland.”””

    Most or almost all can dissassociate themselves, particularly if they are not supporters of the IRA. Surely you don’t claim that Irish-American Catholics are collectively guilty of something because of what the IRA does!

  18. Richard Witty Says:
    January 26th, 2008 at 4:17 am
    Morality ends up being practicality.

    Its the construction of “if treated this way, how would a reasonable man/woman respond?”

    Jonathan Mark Says:
    January 26th, 2008 at 6:18 am
    In that case, if rocketed repeatedly for years thousands of times, how would a reasonable person respond?

    By boycotting the nation that is doing the shelling.

    Therefore, according to the above rule the boycott of Gaza is moral.

    Jonathon – Using that logic, isn’t Palestinian resistance to past and present Israeli expansionism moral?

    If the Syrians rolled in tanks tomorrow and kicked all of the Israeli Jews to the Negev and annexed the remainder of Israel in to Syria, wouldn’t it be moral for Jewish Israelis to resist and engage in whatever is the most effective means possible to change the situation?

    While I think it is a blunder, I don’t necessarily think that cutting off supplies to Gaza until they cease firing missles is immoral. If I am going to be logically consistent, though, I can’t really label the Palestinians firing the missles in the first place to be immoral, since I consider myself a reasonable person, and if I were Israeli and the Syrians invaded and kicked me into the Negev, I would resist and fight back by any means necessary.

  19. BOTH Gaza and Sderot.

    The point is the topic drift, Jonathon.

    Allow people to speak.

    Moral forms of resistance to expansion is moral. Terror isn’t.

    As moral forms of defense from terror are moral.

  20. “Moral forms of resistance to expansion is moral. Terror isn’t.”

    “As moral forms of defense from terror are moral.”

    I think I see your point here Richard.
    Using such logic, I would conclude that Palestinian resistance to Israel expansionism is moral, but firing missles into Sderot is not. Israeli responses to those missiles is moral, but cutting off electricity to all Gazans is not.

    What would actually constitute a moral Israeli response? Targeted assassination of Hamas leaders?

    Jonathan – I’d still like to hear your comments regarding this matter.

    A question for everyone – Should the Palestinians blow up the border wall into Israel and 500,000 Palestinian refugees march through it, as they did into Egypt, what should the Israelis do? This would seem to me to be a moral response to their disenfranchisement from their homes so many years ago. Surely more moral than the terrorism they have waged over the last 50 years.
    I wouldn’t expect the Israelis to allow their border to be voided, so what would be the moral response to these actions?

  21. “””What would actually constitute a moral Israeli response? Targeted assassination of Hamas leaders?

    Jonathan – I’d still like to hear your comments regarding this matter.”””

    I don’t understand the question. I think that current Israeli policies, which include assassination and more, are moral.

    Israel supplies 70 percent of the electricity for the Gaza Strip, even though Hamas/Fatah/Islamic Jihad shell the power station that supplies it. That is happening right now. Has been for years.

    Fuel and food comes from Egypt now. No one has starved.

    For a fraction of the cost of shelling Israel the Hamas government could hook up its hospitals to electrical grids that would use the 70 percent of electricity that Hamas gets from Israel.

    Let’s say that prioritizing electricity for hospitals cost $10 million. How much do you think Hamas spends buying weapons and attacking Israel each year? I bet it is at least that much, if you consider the size of its forces and the sums that Hamas gets from Iran and others.

    Furthermore, European donors will fund projects directly in Gaza. They would probably fund giving hospitals priority in the electrical grid as well.

    If Hamas would rather spend money shelling Israel then whose fault is that? Not mine. Not Israel’s.

  22. “””Jonathon – Using that logic,”””

    It was YOUR logic. You claim that anything a reasonable person would do is moral.

    Using that logic, which is YOUR logic, boycotting Gaza is moral, since reasonable Israelis are doing it.

    I have not endorsed your opinion, but showed that it logically leads to conclusions that you disagree with.

  23. One person who has wrestled incessantly with these issues is Michael Walzer, an expert on the ethics of war who is on the APN Board. Here is an excerpt from an interview in Imprints, a British journal:

    “I recently published an article in Dissent, ‘The Four Wars of Israel/Palestine,’ explaining my position, which I will try to summarise here.

    “These are the four wars: there is a Palestinian war to destroy and replace the state of Israel, which is unjust, and a Palestinian war to establish a state alongside Israel, which is just. And there is an Israeli war to defend the state, which is just, and an Israeli war for Greater Israel, which is unjust…

    “…Palestinian terrorism, that is, the deliberate targeting of civilians, should always and everywhere be condemned. And Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories has been wrong from the very beginning of the occupation. But this second wrongness doesn’t mitigate the first: Palestinian attacks on the occupying army or on paramilitary settler groups are justified – at least they are justified whenever there is an Israeli government unwilling to negotiate; but attacks on settler families or schools are terrorist acts, murder exactly.”

  24. Thanks Dan. I have found that Walzer piece on the four wars to be a helpful guide to my understanding of the conflict.

    Jonathan – You are correct that I was responding to your response to Richard Witty’s definition of morality. Thanks for your further feedback.

    Care to comment on the scenario I describe with the Gaza refugees doing what they did to Egyptian border wall to the Israeli border wall? The reason I raise it is because Hamas is threatening to do just that.

  25. For a defense strategy to be just, it needs to be effective, and minimally harming.

    Assasinating Hamas leaders is effective for a few minutes.

    Ground assault is effective for a few weeks.

    Accepting a hudna is effective for a year historically. (Noting the opportunism of Hamas encouraging PFLP, or PRC, or Islamic Jihad to shoot the rockets instead.)

    There is no out and out defense against the firing of Qassams except to influence the supply chain of the materials, and training, and to get as much advance warning as possible from intelligence on the ground.

    It would be interesting Jonathon, how you would suggest effecting a change (inevitably gradual) in public opinion on the Gaza street by the range of methods and attitudes that you’ve proposed.

    Or, do you believe that Gaza can just remain as it is, and Israel’s relation to it as it is?

    With Gaza open to Egypt, it is more vulnerable to the terror supply chain, and less accountable to law, even as it is a relief to appear that Israel is not the sole responsible party for the supply chain for Gazans necessities.

  26. “””Care to comment on the scenario I describe with the Gaza refugees doing what they did to Egyptian border wall to the Israeli border wall? The reason I raise it is because Hamas is threatening to do just that.”””

    35 years ago there was a member of my synagogue (Temple Israel in Boston, MA) named Edmund Hanauer.

    Although Jewish activists on behalf of the Palestinians were less common then than now, there were a few, and Mr. Hanauer was one. He had at least one article published in the Boston Globe, and was interviewed in the Boston Phoenix.

    Hanauer proposed then what Hamas is threatening now. He said that he suggested it to an official of a Palestinian group, who responded that perhaps Israel would shoot the Palestinians as they entered Israel.

    This idea has been kicking around for a few generations. I think that no one has done it on a massive level because of the objection that the Palestinian official raised to it.

    Attempts to implement similar ideas on a small-scale have also failed. A year or so ago a group of pro-Palestinian protesters decided that their form of protest would be that they would raise their hands in the air as they walked towards Israeli soldiers.

    Israeli soliders first fired into the air. I believe that a British protester was shot in the stomach with a tear gas cannister or injured in some way. Eventually the protesters gave up.

    I don’t see invading pre-1967 Israel in the manner proposed as being a winning idea for the Palestinans. Infiltration without detection might work, but not open invasion.

  27. “””It would be interesting Jonathon, how you would suggest effecting a change (inevitably gradual) in public opinion on the Gaza street by the range of methods and attitudes that you’ve proposed.

    Or, do you believe that Gaza can just remain as it is, and Israel’s relation to it as it is?”””

    My answer is the same as Dan Fleshler’s, who said that he did not know what Israel should do about rocket attacks on Sderot.

  28. Here’s the link:

    http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/21/april-20-bilin-protest/

    Ms. Mairead Maguire of the UK was shot in the stomach with a rubber bullet after attempting to advance towards Israeli soldiers in defiance of orders to halt.

    Others were shot with rubber bullets in the leg and the head.

    The Israeli soldiers also fired tear gas, but Maguire was not shot with a tear gas cannister as I mistakenly recalled.

    The link shows a photo of some protesters retreating with Ms. Maguire after abandoning efforts to advance towards the soldiers.

    The article concludes:

    “””At this point, the Bilin’s Second Annual Conference on Non-violence came to an end. The soldiers exited the gate in the Apartheid Wall. The demonstrators went to tend their wound, to expel the tear gas powder from their noses and lungs. Others, like Ursula from Switzerland, went to the hospital because she was shot in the stomach with a rubber bullet.

    Ana Maria, a 63 year old retired lawyer from Spain, tended to her stomach after also being hit with a rubber bullet.

    An estimated 25 people were either hit with rubber bullets, soldier batons, or received medical care from tear gas inhalation.”””

    Palestinians or their supporters can try this if they like, but I do not see it as a credible threat.

  29. Jonathan – Not to sound overly cynical, but I would think that Hamas would jump at the chance to have hundreds, if not thousands, of their citizens gunned down by the Israelis. It would be on the BBC and CNN within minutes, with Hamas controlling the story, and would no doubt be met with one sided world condemnation for the Israelis. Special brigades of martyrs would volunteer to lead the charge through the destroyed border. The Palestinians who were killed would indeed be considered martyrs, their families honored and likely rewarded, and the PR points Hamas would gain would far outweigh what they usually gain from successful attacks or Israeli retaliatory attacks. While the world looked the other way at the beating the Egyptian border guards doled out initially to the Palestinians coming across, you can bet the farm the world won’t look the other way when the Israelis do the same thing, if not worse.

    When Hanauer originally proposed this idea, the world was very different. My guess is Hamas understands this. It’s a no lose scenario for them. To me the question is not if, but when, and how should the Israelis respond. I completely understand if you don’t know. Neither do I.

  30. Images of mobs of bearded Muslims–some of them carrying guns or explosives–chanting in Arabic as they swarm toward a border might frighten American TV viewers.

    People might be even more supportive of Israel after viewing such footage than they were before.

    And it may not matter what the BBC does to the footage because Americans don’t watch the BBC.

    Fox, CNN and MSNBC, on the other hand, will go for the most sensationalistic footage as they compete for viewers.

    And the most sensationalistic footage will be chanting, snarling bearded men speaking a strange language and accompanied by strange, shrouded women, with some of the men toting guns and ammo.

    I don’t see this as a PR winner for Hamas at all. They can attempt it if they wish, but it won’t be a credible threat.

  31. Make a movie of it, not a life of it.

    You make us Jews look like callous beasts when you fantasize so, and publicly.

  32. Actually don’t make a movie of that.

    Make a movie of the best possible future that you can imagine plausibly.

    Do you some service in the world. Become a real Jew already.

  33. Jonathan – Wrong movie. Try this one instead: Hundreds of women in their 70s who were children when they became refugees 60 years ago lead the charge, followed by thousands of little children under the age of 12, followed by elderly men and teenage women. The scary guys with the beards and the guns are all the way in the back, no where near the front lines and the cameras. Leading up to the big advance Palestinian news crews have done little biographical films on the front line marchers, telling the story of how they fled the IDF in ’48 and ended up in Gaza. As the marchers are injured or killed in the process they roll these little biographical movies out. A website is set up with a list of all those who were harmed in the process. Hamas holds it fire. It wants either a high body count to shame the Israelis and win internatinal PR points or a lot of the refugees to swarm into Israel. To do what I have no idea, but it will be a publicity stunt that Abbie Hoffman would be jealous of.

    After thinking about if for five minutes, if I were the Israelis here is what I would do:

    Set up a perimeter a few miles back of the border that can be really contained. Don’t harm the people coming across unless they are carrying weapons or threatening in any way. Have specially trained IDF personnel on hand to greet the people running through and serve them drinks and treats. Have the Israeli government put together presentations to the Gaza refugees, in Arabic, explaining the Israeli government’s position regarding the refugees, its sadness for the suffering the refugees have experienced, and the Israeli government’s desire to live in peace with the Palestinians and a plan for resettling the refugees in a future Palestinian state that will include parts of Israel (This assumes that the Israeli government comes to its senses and backs a plan similar to the Geneva Initiative). Have Israeli doctors and medical teams available to do free medical exams and care. Have Israeli government administrators available to interview refugees and catalog what homes they lost in ’48 so that future reparations can be made to that person. Have a concert of Jewish and Arab Israeli musicians perform for the people. Show outdoor movies. Heck, even have carnival rides for the kids.

    Invite all Israelis who wish to be welcoming to the refugees to come down and welcome them. Keep away all those Israelis who wish to do harm to the refugees. Have a sufficient military presence to protect everyone, but keep them low key unless Hamas starts trouble. Israeli news crews can do little bios on some of the Israelis coming down to welcome the refugees and they can explain the history of what happened from the Israeli perspective.

    In the best of all possible worlds this will be a trigger for a negotiated 2-state settlement and an end to the conflict. In the absence of that, at least the Israelis will have demonstrated good will and responsibility for any ugliness will be on Hamas.

    After the event has played itself out, perhaps over a couple of weeks, the Israelis can give the refugees a limited amount of time to return over the border before they force them back. I’m not up on crowd control technology, but they might be able to do this with aversive noise machines or something of that sort. Ideally there will be enough good will generated that it won’t be necessary. In any case, the Israelis will have comported themselves with honor and grace and who knows, if Hamas knows that this is how the Israelis will handle the refugees coming over the boarder they may dare not send them, least it will undermine their own extremist agenda.

  34. “””#You make us Jews look like callous beasts when you fantasize so, and publicly.
    # Richard Witty”””

    It is not within my power to do so, since I do not speak for or on behalf of Jews. You have assigned that role to me without my consent.

    Someone asked me what would happen if Hamas militants charged the border, and I responded with a likely scenario. They would be met by live fire.

    I said that because people sometimes approach the Israeli border fence from the Gaza side now, and often they are first warned and then shot. That has happened many times.

    I furthermore cited the case of Western protesters approaching Israeli troops in Bilin. They were met with rubber bullets to the head, stomach and legs. That is not a fantasy. ISM said it happened, and they are being accurate in this instance.

    But the ISM people had no weapons. The Hamas supporters charging the Gaza fence would by definition have explosives to blow up the fence.

    As far as Moslem mobs coming across poorly on television, that has been the case ever since Iranians seized the US embassy in 1979. It hasn’t changed one whit in 30 years.

    I could give raging Moslem mobs in Paris, Palestine, Iran and elsewhere many helpful hints for how to improve their demeanor on television, but I don’t expect them to listen to me.

    If Hamas mobs do attack the Israeli fence and border guards and try to enter Israel, then the images on TV will be as I described them.

  35. How are the 70-year-olds going to get over and through the fence? They could walk up to it and mill around.

    Even barbed wire would stop this caravan of the elderly.

    As long as the caravan of elderly people merely mill around along the border I don’t even see much of a news story.

    Unless Hamas blows up the fence first. In that case all hell would break loose. There would be confusion, people running every which way. Israel would attack the militants carrying explosives.

  36. Even better than scenes of mobs of bearded Muslim men, picture the women of Gaza demonstrating in front of the IDF’s guns, protesting the world’s longest and cruelest occupation and refusing to be intimidated by the fourth largest army on the planet.

    But we don’t have to imagine it because it already happened, in Beit Hanoun, on November 3, 2006.

    And we know how it would turn out: the IDF would open fire on them, killing two and wounding 40 more.

    Some of us have taken the trouble to seek out the images–
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=991958505935660250
    http://www.pchrgaza.ps/files/W_report/English/2006/09-11-2006.htm

  37. Here is the Guardian’s report on the 11/3/06 incident.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1938667,00.html

    “””Two Palestinian women were killed and another 10 were reported wounded when Israeli forces today opened fire on a group preparing to act as a human shield for militants in a Gaza mosque.

    Dozens of women were gathering outside the mosque in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip this morning after an appeal on a local radio station. More than 30 gunmen had taken refuge in the building after the Israeli army began its largest Gaza offensive in months in an attempt to stop militants launching rocket attacks on nearby Jewish settlements over the border.

    Television pictures showed at least 50 women making their way along a pavement when shots could be heard ringing out. They started to flee in terror and at least two women were left lying on the ground.

    …Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers surrounded the mosque when militants took refuge there. Overnight, the two sides exchanged fire. Troops also threw stun and smoke grenades into the mosque to pressure the gunmen to surrender. Witnesses said an Israeli army bulldozer knocked down an outer wall of the mosque, causing the ceiling to collapse.

    The Israeli army said the gunmen inside the mosque were able to take advantage of the women’s demonstration to escape because there weren’t enough infantrymen to block the protesters from approaching the building, and troops didn’t want to shoot into the crowd.

    However, live ammunition was fired in the course of the demonstration, wounding a Palestinian cameraman and a number of women. Hospital officials reported that many of the women were shot in the foot.

    …A spokesman for Hamas militants said 32 gunmen who had taken cover in the mosque escaped with the help of the women.

    Militants, however, continued to fire rockets at Israeli border communities. Two Israelis were slightly wounded and a house was damaged in the latest attacks.

  38. Analysis: What if 500,000 Gazans marched on Erez?

    Rebecca Anna Stoil , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 27, 2008

    Taking advantage of the momentum following the dramatic destruction of the fence separating Egypt from the Gaza Strip, Hamas threatened late last week to pull a similar stunt at the Erez Crossing.

    But while within the IDF the proposed responses seemed vague or insufficient, some argued that the events at Rafah would actually reduce Hamas’s ability to organize a mass demonstration.

    Last week, senior Hamas official Ahmed Youssef warned that “the next time there is a crisis in the Gaza Strip, Israel will have to face half a million Palestinians who will march toward Erez. This is not an imaginary scenario, and many Palestinians would be prepared to sacrifice their lives.”

    Yoram Schweitzer, a senior research fellow at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies and the director of their Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict, said Sunday that the “incidents in Egypt may have given an outlet for the pressure” that had been building up in the Gaza Strip as a result of the shortages there. It could thus be more difficult for Hamas to organize a march on the scale described by Youssef – 500,000 people would mean that approximately one out of every three Gazans would participate in the protest.

    “People would either have to be extremely angry and ‘choked’ – or very, very loyal to Hamas,” in order to respond in such numbers to a call to participate in a mass march on Erez, Schweitzer said. “Before, they could depend on public anger and frustration as a mobilizing force, rather than simply the organizational ability of Hamas.”

    Since the Hamas takeover in June of last year, the largest march held thus far in the Gaza Strip was one sponsored by the anti-Hamas opposition in September, in which an estimated 10,000 people turned out to pray publicly in the streets rather than in Hamas-controlled mosques.

    In comparison, observers have estimated that somewhere between 500,000 and 700,000 Gazans have passed through the remains of the Rafah border fence into the Sinai over the past five days.

    The IDF has said in the past that it would respond to such provocations by utilizing nonlethal crowd control methods, and maintain its usual rules of engagement, in which troops would use live fire only if physically threatened.

    Even in such situations, the initial response would be to fire into the air, then at would-be assailants’ legs – and finally to shoot to kill if the attack did not cease.

    Schweitzer said that if such a protest ended with Palestinian casualties, it would have serious implications for Israel in the international stage, increasing the media victory for Hamas.

    “They know that the use of civilian protest to pass along a political message can be more effective than shooting bullets,” he said, emphasizing that “Hamas knows how to use psychological and media warfare to its advantage.”

    He suggested that security forces attempt to place physical – and intelligence – obstacles in the protesters’ path, as well as utilizing nonlethal technology.

    Among the methods already in use by the IDF is “the Scream” – a machine that releases sound pulses that cause nausea, disorientation and dizziness.

    US forces in Iraq have found that their Active Denial System (ADS) – known as the “pain ray” – is also quite effective in crowd control.

    The ADS – which, unlike the Scream, cannot be blocked by plugging one’s ears – is a strong millimeter-wave transmitter that excites water molecules in the skin to around 55 degrees Celsius, thereby causing protesters to experience a burning sensation, without actually burning them.

    It is believed, however, that prolonged exposure or malfunctions leading to increased strength of microwaves could be fatal to protesters.

  39. The above article confirms my belief that we are not likely to see a televised event featuring an invading force of Palestinians entering Israel in appreciable numbers.

    As soon as the Israeli troops began the above countermeasures the Hamas gunmen among the human shields would perceive themselves or their human shields as being under attack, and open fire.

    Even if, hypothetically, the Israeli troops had previously been using rubber bullets and the Scream and ADS, etc, they would switch to live ammo as soon as fired upon. Those are their rules of engagement. That is what they have always done in the past.

    The whole event will just be one more scene of violence in a violent world, followed by more reports on Britney Spears and American elections.

    Few would care.

  40. Claude Salhani of the Middle East times disagrees that an invasion of Israel by Hamas is unlikely.

    He also disagrees that it would be of little note.

    He thinks it is likely, could number 50,000, and will be an epochal event:

    “”” Imagine that two or three weeks from now, once the food and cigarettes and other goods purchased in Egypt have started to run out again. Hamas begins to incite the crowds to carry out a repeat performance. Only this time they funnel the march north instead of south. An equal number of Gazans — 700,000 — are once again mobilized.

    And even if only 50,000 people show up, Hamas is well aware that the reception reserved to hordes of Palestinians charging toward the Israeli frontier will no doubt be perceived by Israeli security as nothing less than an invasion of Israeli territory. Hamas knows that the reaction of Israeli border guards is bound to be drastically different than the one received in Egypt. In fact, they are banking on that.

    What happens next will send shock waves throughout the Greater Middle East and the Muslim world. From Casablanca to Rawalpindi millions of people will take the street in protest, plunging the Middle East into its worst crisis in modern history.
    “””

    http://www.metimes.com/Security/2008/01/28/analysis_gaza_–_what_if/6195/

  41. I’ve been reading about the history of Palestinians, by Baruch Kimmerling. (I forgot the exact title, I’m at work now.)

    His description of the nakba struck me very deeply.

    While it is NOT genocide, it is a story of great disappointment and disruption of the lives of hundreds of thousands.

    The scale of it is not tiny, and is real.

    It is a sore, that doesn’t even start to heal unless seen, cared about, and addressed.

    If you have never read of their experience, please do so. The Kimmerling book was very informative to me.

    It is not a book of denunciation of Zionism. Kimmerling was a Zionist, a dissenting one. (He died last year I think.)

    It is possible to hear from and respect our neighbors, even as they are very angry.

  42. I assume that you agree that the nakba, aftermath of 1967 war, and the current were enormously unsettling catastrophes for Palestinians of all contexts.

    And that the majority of American Jews and Israelis really don’t know how unsettling those experiences were, and across the board (educated and uneducated, cosmopolitan and insular, wealthy and poor).

    And, that ignorance (literally) as well as semi-conscious denial and indifference shapes much American Jewish voice in domestic and international politics.

    From where I sit, the weak link in the chain, is that American Jews and others just don’t know in a sympathetic manner, the experience of Palestinians over the last 60+ years.

    I don’t know who is the persons or groups to do it, but I think a simple education project without recrimmination, just description, (much moreso than agitation or political posturing) is likely to be effective at nudging attitudes and policy towards the more humane.

    It would actually change the math that humane mostly liberal Jews consider.

    I can’t say that that would reduce the vehemence of either Hamas and other militant Palestinians or the left quickly or directly, but it would change political consciousness from which positions and proposals are formed.

  43. “””And, that ignorance (literally) as well as semi-conscious denial and indifference shapes much American Jewish voice in domestic and international politics.”””

    The problem, as I see it, is that negative concepts (“denial” and “indifference”) are being associated with “Jewish.”

    What is worse, the individual who wrote it also complains about the “American Jewish voice” in domestic politics. Thus he generalizes the complaint beyond even attitudes towards Israel.

  44. I wrote it.

    And your reference to imagined insults to Jews, doesn’t apply.

    The point is that we need to learn, so that we can be full human beings, collectively expressing what full human beings are capable and responsible to do.

    Jonathon,
    To what extent do you understand the experience of Palestinians since say 1930?

    To what extent do you understand what Palestinians experienced in 1947-1952? From then until 67? From 67 until the present?

    Its been eye-opening to me, and either a negligence on my part for not getting more informed, or something else.

    I really don’t know why this is the first time that I encountered such a history, why noone on the left or liberal-left suggested any descriptive (non-polemic) literature on the subject to read.

    Baruch Kimmerling is the author. He’s written a number of informative books.

  45. “””And your reference to imagined insults to Jews, doesn’t apply.”””

    Be as sympathetic to Palestinians as you wish. I don’t care.

    My complaint is that your statement includes a generalized statement in which negative adjectives (“denial,” “indifference) are attached to the word “Jewish”:

    “””And, that ignorance (literally) as well as semi-conscious denial and indifference shapes much American Jewish voice in domestic and international politics.”””

  46. with the modifier “much”.

    Not everything is all condemnation, nor all approval.

    Are you educated about the Palestinians’ experience?

    What have you read?

  47. The problem is that your condemnation is generalized so that it pertains to a group and is based on ethnicity, as in:

    “””And, that ignorance (literally) as well as semi-conscious denial and indifference shapes much American Jewish voice in domestic and international politics.”””

    Why can’t you let your sympathy stand on its own and leave out your disparagement of “much American Jewish voice,” whatever that is?

    The problem is your linking of the negative characteristics “denial” and “indifference” with the word “Jewish.” You should ask yourself why you inserted the word “Jewish” when describing what you oppose.

  48. You associated “Jewish” with unpleasant concepts such as “denial” and “indifference,” e.g.:

    “””“””And, that ignorance (literally) as well as semi-conscious denial and indifference shapes much American Jewish voice in domestic and international politics.”””

    Your statement was about Jews as a group, rather than about me personally.

    That was the problem. You associate a fault with “Jewish” based upon an alleged fault of an individual. You generalize the individual’s alleged faults.

  49. Jonathan and Teddy,
    When you compare the relationship between American Jewry and the state of Israel with the relationship between Irish-Americans and the IRA, you are doing both parties in the first group a severe disservice. The only Zionist groups that can really be compared with the IRA are Lohemei Herut Israel (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel/Lehi/Stern Group)and the West Bank terrorist underground of the 1980s. During their armed struggle (terrorist campaign) the IRA did not even have the support of a majority of Catholics in Northern Ireland (NI) who themselves are a minority of the inhabitants of that province. Most Irish in the Republic rejected the use of violence by the IRA. This is similar to the rejection by most Jewish Israelis of the actions of the terrorist underground, Lehi, and even the Irgun Zvai Leumi (Etzel/Irgun). All of these various groups were self-appointed. Etzel, unlike the IRA or the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc., did not generally attack civilians except as a reprisal for Palestinian atrocities.

    I think you should compare like with like. So if you are going to talk about Irish-Americans it should be their relationship with the actions of the government of the Republic of Ireland.

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